Seattle-ite John Shaw has penned a beautiful book overflowing with American music history, This Land That I Love. Due to his diligent research, he has become an expert on Woody Guthrie and Irving Berlin, both prolific American songwriters.
Near the end of the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II, homeless Dust Bowl refugee Guthrie originally drafted “This Land Is Your Land” as an anthem that encompassed the tough realities of those dark times—and as a rebuttal to Berlin’s “God Bless America,” made famous by Kate Smith.
But the song that Guthrie despised had its own complexities. Irving Berlin had risen from homelessness before becoming America’s most successful songwriter, and penned his song partly in response to Hitler’s rise overseas. The big news of the book is three previously-unpublished verses to “This Land Is Your Land” that Woody Guthrie wrote in 1950 and 1951, ten years after he originally drafted the song.
Even bigger news, these three previously-unpublished verses to “This Land Is Your Land” have been now been sung on the radio for the first time ever… right here, on Lee Callahan’s Sunday Show.
Listen to the entire conversation at the arrow above.
Hear the new verses as sung by John (on guitar) and his pal Robert Hinrix (on mandolin) here:
Circa 1918: Russian-born US composer Irving Berlin (Israel Baline, 1888 – 1989) in ‘Over There’. (Photo by Henry Guttmann/Getty Images)
Headshot of American singer and musician Woody Guthrie (1912 – 1967) smoking a cigarette and squinting outdoors, c. 1960. He wears a fishing cap, turtleneck sweater, and a peacoat. (Photo by Getty Images)